A Month in Singles: April Edition
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1. “The Scotts” by The Scotts (Travis Scott and Kid Cudi)
In a genius move by Travis Scott’s management team, the rapper’s newest collaboration “The Scotts” was premiered during a Fortnite concert with 12.3 million concurrent listeners, giving the track a shortcut to immediate success. In this track, Scott and veteran rapper Kid Cudi perform two verses over a classic Travis Scott beat (airy, sparse keys with thumping percussion), with a nearly minute-long outro highly reminiscent of Scott’s most recent hit “Highest in the Room.”
Quality-wise, the track shows potential, with the vapory, synth-driven outro giving the song a lasting punch and two otherwise passable (if forgettable) verses from Scott and Cudi. If this track is leading to some sort of collaboration project in the vein of Kanye West and Cudi’s “Kid See Ghosts” (2018), then I am very excited to see where they take their sound. If it is a standalone single, it was a pretty good, but unfortunately not a top tier addition to the artists’ discographies.
2. “Oh, What a World 2.0” by Kacey Musgraves
More artists have recently been releasing alternate versions of songs that switch up the track’s original sound but retain its key components like lyrics and melody (see AJR with “Dear Winter 2.0”). While the trend is often pointless and adds very little to the meaning or significance of the song, Kacey Musgraves re-released “Oh, What a World” with a clear purpose and intent. All proceeds from the track benefit environmentalist organizations, and Musgraves makes the terrestrial themes very clear.
The track opens with ambient nature sounds and transitions into the classic “Oh, What a World” refrain, with Musgraves nailing the newfound psychedelic feel. From there, the track is just a trippy rehash of the track of the same name from her 2018 album, with a few flourishes and embellishments. While this track would most likely feel gratuitous had it not been released as a charity single on Earth Day, it’s hard not to appreciate it given the circumstances of its delivery. To sum it up, Musgraves nailed it, as she always does.
3. “@ MEH” by Playboi Carti
This is just one of the many nonsensical lines in Playboi Carti’s new bewildering single “@ MEH” that feels like a step in the wrong direction for him as an artist. After bursting onto the scene in 2015 with infectious energy and undeniable charisma, Carti has amassed a rabid fanbase who will fight tooth and nail for the artist to get the respect he deserves, but he can’t seem to stop letting them down. After teasing his next album for years with snippets, fake release dates, and cryptic messages, fans thought the rapper would cave and provide them with the mythical “Whole Lotta Red” project they’ve been craving for years. But instead, they got this.
In a track that can essentially be boiled down to two minutes and 45 seconds of gibberish on top of a high-pitched, clicking trap beat, Carti has delivered next to nothing content-wise with similar levels of quality. On “@ MEH,” Carti has nothing at all to say, no point to get across, and not even a coherent flow or pronunciation of the words he tries to arrange into what some might call a sentence. All in all, this track was a complete misstep for the still up-and-coming rapper and definitely not worth the loyal fans it ended up costing him.
4. “Level of Concern” by Twenty One Pilots
Twenty One Pilots is not a band known for hopping on trends or cultural waves, but when a pandemic sweeps the world, sometimes you just have to do a little something special. On “Level of Concern,” the band croons about the person in their lives who can help lower anxiety in moments of distress. While most artists who have tried to turn the coronavirus lifestyle into a hit song have failed in terms of quality (see Drake’s “Toosie Slide” or Turbo’s “Quarantine Clean”), Twenty One Pilots have managed to create a song that feels well thought out and perfectly timed, as opposed to the clearly rushed cash grabs many of their contemporaries are releasing with increasing frequency.
Josh Dunn and Tyler Joseph are able to pull off a ‘90s dance vibe on their newest single, with disco drums and pulsating bass grooves that propel the song forward and give a nostalgic feel. Paired with clever lyrics, a high energy music video, and charity-bound proceeds, it’s undeniable that “Level of Concern” is a triumph by the duo and a great addition to their growing discography.